It was a classic Josef Newgarden performance in Iowa as the two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion owned the 250-lapper and took a big step towards taking the lead in the standings.
Leading 208 laps in the No. 2 Chevy, Newgarden motored past teammate and pole sitter Will Power on an early restart and never looked back. Other than cautions for solo wrecks by Felix Rosenqvist and Ed Carpenter, there wasn’t much that could slow Newgarden who made a habit of running away from whomever was chasing him.
The checkered flag waved on the Penske driver with a 6.1s lead over Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Chevy and Power was a full 20.2s back to claim the final all-Bowtie podium.
“They’ve delivered this year on all accounts,” Newgarden said of Chevy. “You know, this was a long-game day. I was disappointed after qualifying ; I just hate losing. I felt like we had enough to get the job done; it did motivate me. I knew we had a car here today to win this race, and in front of this great crowd — unbelievable job that Hy-Vee has done all weekend. So to be able to win here again. It’s always very special.”
ECR’s Rinus VeeKay chased Power to the finish line but came up less than a tenth of a second short in fourth. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon spent the day making gradual improvements and banked more points with his run to fifth, which came at the expense of teammate Alex Palou who struggled for grip in the closing stages of the race and fell back to sixth.
Elsewhere, Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean was nothing short of impressive in his first Iowa race; he was the first Andretti driver home in seventh. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard was also sharp on his Iowa debut, taking 10th for RLL. The last driver to perform well above expectations was Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott who ran quickly, stayed out of trouble, and was rewarded with 12th in his first short oval race.
Championship leader Marcus Ericsson was on course for a big finish after starting 12th and rising to the top three, but a poor decision while fighting over third with O’Ward saw the Chip Ganassi Racing driver go high to pass a lapped car and ventured into the marbles while doing so. O’Ward swept by on the low line and, while scrambling to stay off the wall, Ericsson dropped to ninth.
He’d take one spot back, coming home in eighth. With the error, his 35-point championship lead over Power turned into a 15-point lead over Newgarden, who improved from fourth to second in the standings.
We’re back Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET for the final race of the weekend — 300 laps in more tolerable conditions. Be prepared for another starring performance from Penske, but with temperatures set to be in the mid-80s, there’s a chance that some of the front runners from race one will miss the setup window and some who struggled will strike Iowa gold.